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State v. Roby

Court of Appeals of Iowa

February 5, 2014

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
WILLIAM EARL ROBY, Defendant-Appellant

Editorial Note:

This decision has been referenced in a "Decisions Without Published Opinions" table in the North Western Reporter.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Webster County, Kurt L. Wilke, Judge. A husband appeals the judgment following a jury verdict finding him guilty of committing an assault causing serious injury to his wife.

Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Nan Jennisch, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Kevin Cmelik, Assistant Attorney General, Ricki N. Osborn, County Attorney, and Jennifer Benson and Cori Kuhn Coleman, Assistant County Attorneys, for appellee.

Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Tabor and McDonald, JJ.

OPINION

TABOR, J.

Through appellate counsel, William Roby claims he received substandard representation at trial because his attorney did not contest the State's proof his wife, Aleta Roby, suffered serious injury. Roby also filed a pro se brief that asserts the district court employed an incorrect standard in ruling on his motion for new trial.

Finding no reasonable probability the district court would have granted judgment of acquittal on the serious injury element of the assault offense given the strength of the State's evidence, we conclude counsel's performance did not prejudice Roby's defense. As for the pro se claim, the record does not show the district court failed to apply the weight-of-the-evidence standard. Accordingly, we affirm.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings

The jury was entitled to credit the following information offered through the testimony of Aleta Roby (Aleta) and other State's witnesses.

Around 11:30 p.m. on August 16, 2012, Aleta and William Roby (Roby) were drinking whiskey and using methamphetamine in the living room of their Fort Dodge home. Roby grew angry with his wife, questioning her, then pushing and slapping her. His violence escalated to punching her with his fist. He next dragged her by the hair into the bedroom and threw her on the bed. Once on the bed he straddled her, pinning her arms with his knees. He continued to punch her in the head and face while she begged him to stop. Aleta felt " terrified" and believed he was going to kill her. She did not know how long the attack lasted because she lost consciousness. She did recall seeing Roby finally roll over and fall asleep at 6:30 the next morning.

Her eyes were so swollen from the blows that she could not see her own injuries in the mirror for more than a day. The pain in her face was " excruciating." When she was able to observe the damage, she noted " massive black eyes" and bruises and swelling all over her face. She bled from her left ear for two weeks. In the days following the assault, she stayed in the house--feeling " afraid, in shock, terrified." When she tried to leave the house, Roby would pull her back in. Roby refused to take her to the hospital, instead acting like he " wanted to be [her] nurse and just take care of her." He would apply ice packs and a heating pad to her injuries. Roby eventually ordered his wife to vacuum up all of the hair he had pulled from her head.

On August 27, eleven days after the attack, Aleta convinced her husband to drive her to the food stamp office to take care of some paperwork. When she was at the office, Aleta called an assistant county attorney for help. Authorities escorted Aleta to the police department, where ...


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